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"Love Is Not All" Sonnet XXX, by Edna St. Millay

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Summer Martinez

on 16 June 2014

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Transcript of "Love Is Not All" Sonnet XXX, by Edna St. Millay

"Love Is Not All" Sonnet XXX, by Edna St. Vincent Millay
1st Quatrain
Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be in this difficult hour
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolutions power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would
2nd Quatrain
Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be in this difficult hour
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolutions power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would
Edna St. Vincent Millay
Born February 22, 1892 in Rockland, Maine
Entered her poem "Renascence" in a contest in 1912 and placed 4th, and won publication in The Lyric Year
She received a scholarship to Vassar College
Her first book was published in 1917 the year she graduated from Vassar College
Was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1921 for 'The Harp Weaver'
Married Eugen Boissevain in 1923
Was openly bisexual and wrote about female sexuality and feminism
Died in 1950
Love Is Not
Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be in this difficult hour
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolutions power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would.
Lines 1 and 2
Millay is stating that love is not more important than the basic things humans need for survival, food, water, or shelter

In line 2 there is an example of an alliteration with the repeating 'r' sounds in rain and roof
Lines 3 and 4
These two lines are saying that love cannot save you when you are 'drowning' in life.

You cannot cling to love to pull you out of whatever may be pulling you under

You will still "Rise and sink and rise and sink again"
English Sonnet
Also known as a Shakespearean Sonnet

Follows the ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GG rhyme scheme

Written in iambic pentameter

Can be broken into 4 sections
Lines 5 and 6
These lines are stating that love cannot fix something that is medically wrong.

There is still a need for medical intervention
Lines 7 and 8
Millay now is saying that people are meeting death because they lack love.

Without love what is there to live for?

The phrase "friends with death" is a personification. Death is not a physical being, therefore you cannot befriend it.
3rd Quatrain
Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be in this difficult hour
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolutions power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,

Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would
Lines 9-12
When presented with the option to give up love for one of the things listed previously (food, water, ect) she might "sell your love"

It does not mean that she would actually give up love.

In lines 10-12 there is another example of an alliteration with the repeating "p", pain, past, power, and peace.
Couplet
Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;
Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;
Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.
It well may be in this difficult hour
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolutions power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.
It well may be. I do not think I would
Lines 13 and 14
Even after being presented with the option to trade love for something necessary the author tells us that she does not think she would.

The love in her eyes is too valuable to be given up.
Conclusion
This poem is written to show that love is not everything we need to sustain our life. Yes, it is a great thing to have and it makes life worth living but it is not a basic necessity. Once people know what love is capable of they wouldn't trade it for anything in the word, it becomes too precious to just throw away.
Works Cited
Millay, Edna St. Vincent. "Love is Not All (Sonnet XXX)" Poets.org. Academy of
America Poets, n.d. Web. 12 June 2014

"Edna St. Vincent Millay." Poets.org. Academy of American Poets, n.d. Web.
12 June 2014.
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